Aiming higher

11/21/2013

By ANGIE HAFLICH

By ANGIE HAFLICH

ahaflich@gctelegram.com

After seeing how well last year's Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign went, with the agency topping its goal by nearly $5,000, local organizers decided to aim a little higher for the 2013 campaign.

That's why this year's goal for the campaign, which serves as a main source of funding for the organization, is up $5,000 from last year's goal.

"This year's goal is $65,000 and last year, it was $60,000," said Salvation Army Lt. Jeff Curran. "I think they did close to $65,000 last year. That's why we raised it a little bit this year."

Curran, co-commanding officer at the local Salvation Army, said funds collected through the campaign comprise about 15 percent of the organization's overall yearly budget.

"The money raised by the kettles is one of the biggest sources of funding we have for the programs we do — from our youth programs to our feeding programs to our after-school programs," Curran said.

He said 90 percent of the funding is used for those programs, and the other 10 percent goes to the Salvation Army headquarters to pay for services it provides to the Garden City location. Some of the local programs the funds support include the Youth Activity Center, youth summer day camps, after-school programs, the food pantry, emergency housing, clothing and utility assistance.

The campaign kicked off Tuesday at Dillons East and Dillons West. After Thanksgiving, bell ringers will be located at other area retailers.

"Everything else starts on the 29th," Curran said.

The other bell-ringing sites will be located at Walgreens, Walmart, Sam's Club, JCPenney and Sears, from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Curran said they also will be adding an additional location this year.

"We'll have one at Daylight Donuts on Friday mornings from 5 to 10 a.m. and Saturday mornings from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m.," he said.

Curran said they expected to have close to 100 volunteers this year.

"But we can always use more," he said. "We have quite a bit of coverage with the bell ringers we have, but we're also going to have a lot of open kettles."

Lt. Joyce Curran, co-commanding officer at the Salvation Army, said the daytime hours are most difficult to fill due to work and school schedules.

To fill in the scheduling blanks, people with disabilities are being given the chance to get some hands-on experience at a job.

On Tuesday, Felicia Martinez rang a bell at Dillons West.

"I always wanted to work but was scared to try it," Martinez said.

Martinez is a client of Sunflower Home Health's program, Sunflower Special Services, which provides job placement services to people with disabilities.

"We help clients with disabilities find jobs," Mary Guevara, locational rehabilitation coordinator at Sunflower Home Health, said. "We coach them to help them feel comfortable in a job setting, and we help employers understand why they should hire employees with disabilities."

As part of that program, clients are assigned a job coach, who mentors them along the way to permanent employment. Salvador Lopez, Martinez's job coach, was with her Wednesday at Dillons West.

"It helps them learn to be punctual," Lopez said.

The clients get paid minimum wage, and Lopez said Martinez probably will be working about 20 hours a week.

"It's the first job they've had, so it teaches them to be on time and just the basic responsibility of having a job," Curran said. "I think it's a neat program. It's an opportunity for these kids to get a job and earn a little bit of money. They're loving it."

Jeff Curran said they currently employ Martinez and one other person through Sunflower Special Services, and also employ three other people, some of whom work as bell ringers each year to supplement their incomes.

He said Salvation Army currently is seeking others who might be interested in making extra money over the holidays.

"It's not bad for a college student who's maybe here over the holidays and needs a little extra cash," Curran said. "We can definitely work around their schedules."

He said they try to schedule bell ringers to work for a minimum of two hours at a time, but they are flexible with that request.

"This is sometimes the way people can give back to the community a little bit, so if they want to help for an hour, they can help for an hour," he said. "It's easier to schedule when we can do two or four hours at a time, but it's not mandatory."

To make a donation or for more information about either volunteering or working as a bell ringer, call the Salvation Army at 276-4027.

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